Envision Virgin completes expansion to 'future proof' Formula E team

Alex Kalinauckas
Virgin completes expansion to 'future proof' FE team
Virgin completes expansion to 'future proof' FE team

The Envision Virgin Racing Formula E squad has completed the expansion of its Silverstone base, which team boss Sylvain Filippi says is aimed at "future-proofing" the operation.

Virgin first moved its FE operations base from Donington Park to a unit in the Silverstone Park industrial unit opposite the grand prix track in 2017, and has since been upgrading its facilities.

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Ahead of the start of the 2019-20 season, it has added an upper floor area that houses a new driver-in-the-loop simulator, engineering platform and a conference room.

The final phase of the expansion - with the building now able to house 25 permanent staff, Virgin's two Audi-powered race cars and the extensive spare parts FE teams require - was enabled by investment from the Envision renewable energy company, which bought the majority stake in the team in April 2018.

"The short term benefits [are clear], but the bigger benefits will be longer term," Filippi told Autosport about the new base, which will complement Virgin's London commercial office.

"Future-proofing is exactly what it is. This championship is going to be more competitive.

Virgin completes expansion to 'future proof' FE team
Virgin completes expansion to 'future proof' FE team

"Now we are pretty much at probably peak competitiveness in terms of [number of] teams, right? It doesn't get more crazy than the four German OEMS, plus Nissan and the rest.

"It's not going to get more than that. But these guys are going to get better.

"I think season six [2019-20] is going to be very hard and very interesting. But seven and eight, even more so.

"Because these big guys, after a year of knowledge and data and so on, they'll step up a gear again.

"For me, it's all about building the structure, so I do whatever I need to do to stay at that level."

Virgin finished third in the standings in 2018-19 - its first season as an Audi customer squad after completing three championships as the DS works squad.

Filippi says he is "absolutely sure we can run this team from this space for the next 10 years - no problem at all" even if Virgin were to switch powertrain suppliers or build its own technology in the future.

"If we were to work with a different car manufacturer in the long-term future, whether as a customer team or as a full works entry, then the scope of work would change hugely," he added.

"We could never do a full powertrain R&D from here because it's not geared up for it.

"But it could happen [nearby] very easily - being based at Silverstone allows you to do that too easily through R&D, simulation, suppliers."

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